Monday, September 03, 2007

The Most Beautiful Woman

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to tell you the story of the most beautiful woman of the Twentieth Century, but on second thoughts I shall tell the story of the second most beautiful woman, as modesty will not permit me to name the most beautiful woman {I was married in 1977} of that era.

Kindly allow me to take you back in time to the middle of the last century, to a country which is very near the South Pole and whose footballers are its greatest ambassadors today. Yes your guess is right. I am speaking of Argentina and the year is 1952.

Argentina was then ruled by a benevolent dictator, if such a nomenclature exists, Juan Peron. His wife, Evita, the first lady was a darling of the masses; not only was she exceedingly beautiful but also was an accomplished singer with a gifted voice. She was highly popular and it was her wont to address the masses as her ‘shirtless children’. She constructed numerous hospitals and playgrounds for the poor.

In 1952 she died of cancer when she was hardly 32 years old. The whole country was shocked and there was a spontaneous outpouring of grief. The funeral cortege left the Presidential Palace, with military honours, traversing the streets of Buenos Aires to be buried in a graveyard some distance away. The funeral procession of Lady Diana comes immediately to mind. The throng crowded the streets to have a last glimpse o the coffin of their departed Evita.

But no one knew that the coffin did not have the mortal remains of the first lady. Then where was the body? It was right there in the Presidential Palace. Juan Peron loved his wife beyond death and was unable to be separated from her. He called the Professor of Anatomy from Cordoba, I apologise for forgetting his name, to mummify the body. It was done in utmost stealth and secrecy, and even the Palace attendants were unaware of the mission. The good Professor took exactly an year to have the body mummified and the flesh retained her living luster.

The best-preserved body in history, as claimed by many, is that of Comrade Lenin in Red Square, Moscow. But they, who were fortunate to have beheld both the bodies were of the opinion that the corpse of Evita was a thousand times better preserved and more lifelike.

But the story does not end here. Six years after her death there was a military coup in Argentina and president Juan Carlos had to flee the Presidential Palace in a private aeroplane. The military junta ransacked the Palace, searching each and every room, when they chanced upon the body. They were totally flabbergasted! It simply couldn’t be true: she was long since dead and safely buried. For identification they chopped off her right thumb and were then satisfied that it was indeed the remains of the erstwhile first lady.

The body was shifted to the national museum and was always under an armed guard.

But the ultimate tribute to her beauty and the ultimate honour to the professor’s genius was paid six years after her death, in 1958, when a top ranking Argentinean general was arrested, prosecuted and convicted for performing necrophilia on the corpse. Necrophilia, incidentally, means sexual violation of a dead woman.

So you agree that she fits the Bard of Avon’s description “age cannot with her, nor custom stale her infinite variety” to a pie.

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